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31 Oct, 2014 18:15

National Guard deployed in Hawaii as Kilauea lava flows through town

National Guard deployed in Hawaii as Kilauea lava flows through town

The Hawaii National Guard is sending troops to Pahoa, a rural town currently dealing with encroaching lava from the Kilauea volcano. The lava is threatening to destroy a major road in the already-isolated town.

The National Guard deployed Thursday 83 troops to Pahoa, a town of about 950 residents, to assist with security, including the construction of a roadblock and other pressing safety issues, AP reported citing Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira.

From a newly-formed vent, the Kilauea volcano has leaked lava northeast toward the ocean since June. The lava has slowed since scientists said last month that it would take over the main road in the town within weeks. Nevertheless, the lava has stayed on course and still threatens to consume the town’s main thoroughfare.

Thus far, lava has burned much vegetation since it streamed through the area, and it is currently approaching homes and other structures in town.

The lava’s flow is “sluggish” at the moment, according to Oliveira, moving less than 5 yards per hour.

Burning debris can be seen in the lava flow from Mount Kilauea that is inching closer to the village of Pahoa, Hawaii October 29, 2014. (Reuters/Marco Garcia)

Pahoa residents are determining if, when, and how to evade the lava’s grasp, especially as it threatens to overtake the main road, AP reported. Residents are facing the prospect of having to abandon their homes as a juggernaut of molten lava 10.5 meters wide and over 1,000 degrees Celsius rampages across their village consuming everything.

"She is so gentle but so unrelenting. She is just slow and steady," said Jamila Dandini, resident.

According to AP, Dandini, like others, refers to the lava as Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess.

"It's like slow torture. It speeds up, it slows down. It speeds up, it slows down," said Paul Utes, who owns a cafe just a few hundred yards south of where the lava is expected to cross the main road.

Once the lava crosses the main road and other outlets, the town will be divided in half with only a few residents able to still access the area’s sole supermarket, only a mile from the town’s heart.

The eruption of Kīlauea Volcano began in 1983, according to the US Geological Survey. The USGS has called Kilauea “perhaps the world’s most active volcano” and certainly the most active on the Hawaiian Islands.